Image via iStock.com/w-ings
By Teresa K. Traverse
As technology plays a larger role in our lives, it’s no surprise that we are seeing more advancements in pet technology as well. From pet cameras and dog GPS collars to dog water fountains and automatic cat feeders, the pet supplies market is filled with tools designed to solve everyday issues that pet parents encounter.
These new pet products can help us keep an eye on our beloved pets when we’re not home, provide them with food or water, or just entertain them. These are a few of the newest tech-driven pet products on the market that can help make being a pet parent easier.
Wearable Dog Technology Devices
Many people use devices to measure their steps, track calories and stay in shape. Now, you can get the same thing for your dog.
“The biggest advances to come in technology are the canine wearable devices that are really about health and safety,” says Tierra Bonaldi, spokesperson for the American Pet Products Association.
One of the biggest ways pet technology can keep pets safe is through GPS devices in dog collars. These devices can locate your pet and give you a better shot of getting a lost dog back.
The Link AKC GPS and activity monitor smart collar for dogs offers GPS tracking and can track your pup’s physical activity. The app provides daily activity monitoring and recommends activity levels based on dog’s age, breed and gender. And if your dog wanders off, the app will alert you that your pet has left home.
“Dogs can’t talk. In essence, it gives your dog a voice,” says Bonaldi. “It gives the pet owner better information to improve life and ultimately reduce trips to the vet and increase their lifespans.”
For extra information on your pup’s well-being, the FitBark 2 water-resistant dog activity and sleep monitor even goes as far as tracking your dog’s sleep activity and comparing it with other dogs. The app then compiles a score so you can better measure your pup’s progress.
Veterinarians can also use these devices to check on pets after surgery or their weight loss progress. "I think they are a remarkable tool that can help in any weight loss plan for dogs," says Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, based in Greeley, Colorado.
“Sometimes, I also give pet parents specific assignments, like, ‘walk a mile with your dog three to five times a week.’ An activity tracker would be helpful here as well, as it would allow the person to know if they are hitting their 'steps' with their dog.”
Pet Camera Technology
“The biggest thing that pet owners are really loving are any of the tools that allow them to monitor their pets when they’re not home,” says Megan Stanley, owner of Dogma Training and Pet Services Inc. and chair of the board of the directors for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.
You can now keep an eye on your pet 24/7 with a Wi-Fi pet camera that connects to your phone. Using an app, you can keep an eye on your pet with the Canary Wi-Fi pet camera, which includes night vision and can even double as a home security system.
The Petcube Play Wi-Fi pet camera not only allows you to watch your pet, but also has a speaker that lets you communicate with them while you’re away. Using two-way audio, you can talk to your pet and hear them bark or meow back. The camera also features a built-in laser, which gives you a chance to play with your kitty or schedule an autoplay game for her.
“Pet owners are busier, but they want to ensure that they’re keeping their pets’ needs in mind. You’re not just having a dog that’s sitting at home all day by myself with nothing to do,” says Stanley. As a trainer, she likes having the ability to know what a pet might be doing when the owner is away. By observing your pet, you can see if your pet is displaying symptoms of separation anxiety, which allows you to address the behavior sooner.
Dog and Cat Smart Doors
Smart dog and cat doors are also emerging products in pet technology. The cat or dog door is activated by your pet's collar, and you can program it to open for specific pets to come and go.
"These can be excellent devices for keeping pets safe and unwanted animals out," says Stanley. "The benefit is that in a multi-animal household, you can keep some pets inside."
Stanley says that you might want an indoor cat to stay inside the home yet give a dog access to the yard. She says these devices are easy to install and have good safety and anti-theft features since you can control access and lock them. Her favorite feature is that you can set a schedule to let the pet out.
"All of these are useful and put the pet's needs into consideration for times when they may need to be left at home longer—although they should not be used for this often or as a reason to keep them home alone for long periods," says Stanley. She says that pet owners who use smart doors should be mindful to keep the batteries charged to ensure they don't stop working.
Interactive Dog Toys
Stanley also praised dog interactive toys and cat interactive toys, which you can use to keep your pets both mentally and physically active. She likes the iFetch mini automatic ball launcher dog toy because it enables dogs to set their own pace of play and keep themselves entertained. Interactive toys ensure your pets are being enriched and have plenty of outlets to expend their energy during the day.
For cats, the PetSafe FroliCat Pounce interactive pet toy can stimulate your cat and keep him active while you are away from the home. It can be set to automatically turn off so that you can set up designated play times for your cat.
Automatic cat feeders and automatic dog feeders have been around for a while, but there have been significant advancements in recent years that make them even more convenient. “The technology and how those feeders are working has advanced quite significantly in the last few years,” says Bonaldi.
One such example of a sophisticated automated feeder is the SureFeed microchip small dog and cat feeder. The feeder recognizes your pet’s microchip or a special RFID collar tag and opens accordingly, so that other pets cannot steal their dog food or cat food.
Bonaldi says devices like this are great for owners of multiple pets who have different dietary needs. If you have one pet who needs to lose weight and another who is on a prescription diet, these feeders can meet both of those pets’ individual needs.